The linguistic origin of the term Dalit is Marathi, and pre-dates the militant-intellectual Dalit Panthers movement of the 1970s. It was not in popular use till the last quarter of the 20th century, the origin of the term Dalit, although in the 1930s, it was used as Marathi-Hindi translation of the word "Depressed Classes".

The changing nature of caste and Dalits has become a topic of increasing interest in India. This edited book is a collection of originally written chapters by eminent experts on the experiences of Dalits in India. It examines who constitute Dalits and engages with the mainstream subaltern perspective that treats Dalits as a political and economic category, a class phenomenon, and subsumes homogeneity of the entire Dalit population. This book argues that the socio-cultural deprivations of Dalits are their primary deprivations, characterized by heterogeneity of their experiences. It asserts that Dalits have a common urge to liberate from the oppressive and exploitative social arrangement which has been the guiding force of Dalit movement. This book has analysed this movement through three phases: the reformative, the transformative and the confrontationist.

An exploration of dynamic relations between subalternity, exclusion and social change, the book will be of interest to academics in the field of sociology, political science and contemporary India.

part I|26 pages


part II|30 pages

Perspectives on Dalits as subalterns

chapter 2|20 pages

Dalits are not merely subalterns

The need for a different perspective

part III|26 pages

Constructing new historiography

chapter 4|10 pages

Dalit memoirs

A new source of historiography

chapter 5|14 pages

Subalternity and popular religion

Religiosity and making of the Bhajans of Dharanidas

part IV|32 pages

Education as liberator

chapter 6|13 pages

Education and Dalit liberation

Possibilities and constraints

chapter 7|17 pages

Socialization experience of doctoral students in Indian Academia

Do caste and class matter?

part V|38 pages

Changing socio-cultural space

chapter 8|12 pages

Politics, caste and Dalit subalternity

Reflecting on the modes of engagement

chapter 9|7 pages

Rural Dalit women

Assertion for change

chapter 10|17 pages

Dalit women in Uttar Pradesh

Experiencing subalternity and exclusion

part VI|52 pages

The last citizens of India

chapter 11|26 pages

Manual scavengers

Apathetic state and callous society

chapter 12|24 pages

Dalits and the Devdasi system

A dignified form of sexual slavery